OXFORD’S famous Mini Plant is feeling the impact of a global shortage of microchips, with employees three days into a week where no cars are rolling off the production line.

The paid time off for workers has been put down to a ‘global semiconductor shortage’ – essentially a lack of microchips.

The factory has stood down production for all shifts since Monday, with that remaining so for the rest of the week.

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A spokesperson for Mini told the Oxford Mail: “As a result of the global semiconductor shortage, an issue that has affected the entire automotive industry for the last year, Plant Oxford is making some short-term adjustments to its production schedule.

“We are monitoring the situation very closely and are in constant communication with our associates and suppliers.”

The spokesperson confirmed all staff are being paid this week, adding: “No associate will have to go unpaid as a result of the stand down and we are in discussions with the union about how this will be managed.”

United the Union regional officer Scott Kemp said: “We are aware of the global issue of semiconductor shortages that has impacted the automotive sector as the world economy emerges from the pandemic.

“Our members have been stood down this week and we will be monitoring the situation in relation to semiconductor supply going forward.”

Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, said despite concerns the plant had closed for the week, she was pleased workers at Mini weren’t going without pay.

She said: “I am concerned to hear that the Mini Plant is being forced to shut down due to the global semiconductor shortage.

“I am pleased to hear that BMW is working closely with the union to manage this situation, and that no employees will be going without pay as a result.”

Record sales

Last week, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced global sales totalled approximately £409 billion in 2021, the highest ever annual total, and an increase of 26.2 per cent compared to 2020.

The industry shipped a record 1.15 trillion semiconductor units last year, as chip companies ‘ramped up production to address high demand amid the global chip shortage’.

In a statement, SIA president and chief executive officer John Neuffer said: “In 2021, amid the ongoing global chip shortage, semiconductor companies substantially ramped up production to unprecedented levels to address persistently high demand, resulting in record chip sales and units shipped.

“Demand for semiconductor production is projected to rise significantly in the years ahead, as chips become even more heavily embedded in the essential technologies of now and the future.”

The Financial Times reported last week that the semiconductor industry ‘has long struggled with a notorious cycle of booms and nasty downturns’.

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